Life in Shenzhen: First Impressions

Things that surprised me about China:
-It’s super clean and full of nature. We are raised with this idea that China is full of smog and a concrete jungle with little care for the environment. That’s just not the case in Guangdong as lush trees are everywhere you look.
-Public tansportation is incredibly easy and organized. Occasionally, I have to squeeze myself into packed trains during rush hour, but, besides that, getting around is so simple, organized, and is the definition of clean. The NY subway and Paris metro have nothing on Shenzhen.
-People are friendly. I definitely get stared at, especially when I wear gym clothes, but overall I don’t have any issues. In fact, I had it way worse in Japan when I was passive-aggressively turned away from places just because I had tattoos or was a foreigner who didn’t speak sufficient Japanese.
-China does our own fast food chains better than we do. I mean a lot better. It’s cleaner, more organized, and, so far, I haven’t had an experience with nonsense like Karens or drunks creating an issue over nothing. Whereas in the US it was a normal occurrence for me.

Days 1-6 in Shenzhen, China (9/5/22-9/10/22):
-Over 40 countries I’ve lived in or traveled to. China is hands down the hardest to get settled in because it’s its own world. It’s extremely difficult to get by without an active Chinese SIM card or Chinese bank account because you’re required to have them to do anything from exchanging money to using the majority of local apps.
-Speaking of apps. China has their own versions of every app you can think of. Uber = Didi, Google = Baidu, and WhatsApp = WeChat.
-Paying for things with cash, visa, or Mastercard is foreign here. Everyone pays digitally with Alipay or Wechatpay. It’s all condensed to scanning QR codes. But, if something ever happens to your phone you are so screwed.
-COVID testing is real out here. You need 3 different QR codes daily, that you access through WeChat, just to go anywhere or even take a taxi to show you’re taking daily tests at community centers.
-Taxis here are incredibly cheap and easy to wave down. Took a 40 minute cab ride last night and spent about $8USD. In the US that would’ve been a fortune.
-The metro here is actually incredibly clean and organized but rush hour is so crowded.
-I think China has an overall reputation for having rude people and being unclean. So far, that hasn’t been my personal experience whatsoever.
-Shenzhen is a first tier city. What does that mean? It’s in the top level of infrastructure in China along with 3 other major cities.

Life in China Update:
-It’s seriously a whole different world out here. My 44th country and I’ve felt absolutely helpless here several times.
-China has a different culture when it comes to common courtesy. It’s not a big insult to bump into someone trying to fit into a crowded MRT or cut right in front of someone who isn’t moving fast enough.
-Speaking of walking, some people power walk everywhere, some people are glued to their screens moving slow as molasses. Just have to learn how to navigate the crowds.
-That stereotype about foreigners moving to China because they go up a few points and have a better quality of life here is 100% true. I’ve seen plenty of guys that would be a 5 in the US with 9s in China.
-In the US, I was not making enough to live on my own as a teacher. In fact, I was working two jobs at the time and living with my parents.
-Here, my taxes are incredibly low, I spend around 20% of my salary on my rent, and I am nowhere near the top tier of teaching salaries here.
-I will never get over trying different flavors of Pringles, Lays, and Doritos abroad. They have a black truffle flavor here!
-I live above a mall, meaning I have a grocery store, salon, and loads of restaurants seconds away.
-I teach classes of around 25-30 students Monday-Friday. It’s not easy work, I have a chalkboard, and there is no internet in any of my classrooms – but I was put on this earth to teach.

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